The Paradox of Balance
Time Is Not A Measurement
It’s an inconvenience.
Samantha had been waiting for the train for close to an hour. The 8:13 was late and she had yet to see as much as a headlight approach. She knew that the busiest time at the hospital was the evening shift. She was anxious to make it there fast. Only now, she was skeptical that she would make it there before the first drunk driver rolled in.
Samantha was no stranger to the drunk driver.
It was a warm July evening in 2009. Samantha had completed her rounds at the hospital and was now on her way home. A third year intern, Samantha had invested time and money into her education, and was now well on her way to a career in medicine. She was thinking of nothing other than relaxing in the tub and sipping a glass of wine while listening to jazz standards stream from her iPhone. She was one of the lucky few interns that could turn off her emotions without a thought. An especially useful ability when your job requires you to witness the faces of the ill, the injured, and the dying on a regular basis. These were the images that were burned into the brains of the first years. Who could blame them though?
It was a clear San Diego night and the sunroof of her late model Toyota Camry welcomed in the moonlight. Traveling east on Interstate 8, Samantha was headed back to her apartment anxious to unwrap herself from her constricting scrubs. She remembered little about the accident. Metal scraping from the guard rail, the sound of ambulance sirens, and bright, sanitary lights passing overheard as she traveled down the east wing of the hospital. A hospital she had walked a few hours earlier.
Three days had passed. She awoke to a feeling of imbalance and of longing. Samantha had lost her left leg in the accident and would require a prosthetic from the knee down. It would be the turning point of her life.
Samantha spent the first six months in physical therapy trying to reconcile the movement of her leg to her brain. No easy task, especially when your therapist is a former drill sergeant hell-bent on reliving the life he had in the military. The military must not have paid as much as the private sector, Samantha thought.
She spent a lifetime on her back trying to lift the meaty flesh that was attached to her hip; an exercise that was supposed to establish muscle memory to an incomplete limb. It only succeeded in bringing tears and frustration to the eyes of a now deteriorating soul.
Every week Samantha saw a therapist to talk about her progress and the incident that brought her to his office. Each visit brought a reminder of the incomplete person she had become and the anger of an accident that was not of her control. Tears came first, but soon depression would occupy the space behind her eyes. The blank stare focused on nothing but the psychiatric credentials hanging on the wall. A reminder of her career destroyed in a matter of seconds. Her life scattered to the wayside like the pieces of her car on that fateful night. Nothing could heal her mental state now. Time, perhaps. But time no longer was a measurement to Samantha. With only one lower appendage her handicap had become her career; an inconvenient one.
Turn off the emotions; one last time.
The train whistle now gave away its location. The train approached with moderate speed but showed no willingness to slow down. The train turned shadow into light, then back into shadow. Samantha could hear the increasing sound of the train’s engine as it neared. The whistle became more and more deafening and the rhythmic vibration of the train track grew more frequent. Laying across the track, her right leg twitched in anxious anticipation; a leg awaiting separation from Samantha.
It was her fault.
Samantha had finished her rounds that warm July afternoon and was enjoying her second Belvedere Martini on a half-empty stomach. Her beaming smile and her personable nature was always a welcome site during happy hour. Enjoying the company of her colleagues she had no idea that her life would change in a matter of minutes.
Turning off her emotions. It was what Samantha was good it.
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